By Teachers, For Teachers
Transition periods are probably the most challenging time a teachers have throughout the day, especially when it is right after lunchtime or recess. Students are excited and energetic, and the classroom may get quite chaotic.
Luckily, many teachers have very structured routines of classroom management where students know what is expected of them when they get back from these specials. Unfortunately, even in the most structured classroom, students can still be wound up and it can be hard to settle them down. The key to calming your students and getting them back on track to learn, is to use classroom management to create engaging tasks that they look forward to after their transitions. Here are a few ideas.
This is the time to keep the lights dim and have students settle in on the carpet or put their heads down on their desks and listen to you read them a book. This is a wonderful strategy that many teachers use and students really look forward to. This peaceful, calm activity is something that will stay with them for years. Just make sure that you are reading a book that is of interest to all students. You can have students vote on the book that you will read each week. This way you know that all children will be engaged.
Schedule in some private journal time after recess or lunch. Allow students to go anywhere in the classroom as long as they find a spot not near anyone else, and have them free-write in their journals. To help from having students continually ask you what they should write about, have students bring in pictures in the beginning of the year to glue into the front of their journals. These pictures will serve as inspiration for their journal entries. You can also type up a list of writing prompts and have them glue that to the inside of the journals in case they get stuck and don’t know what to write about. Writing seems to have a calming effect on children, so this activity will help them settle down within a matter of minutes.
Yoga is a great way for students to calm down and relax. It’s also a great way for students to develop the skills that are needed to manage stress as well as improve their concentration. A healthy body and mind are essential for your overall well-being. You can implement this effective practice after lunch, recess, or any physical or highly energetic activity to help students relax. Start with having students get into child’s pose. Students should sit on their feet with their knees separated. Then, have them place their forehead in between their separated knees so that it touches the floor. Their arms should be extended in front of them with palms facing down. Have them breathe deeply for about three to five minutes. Other calming poses are the sleeping beautiful pose, downward facing dog, and the tree pose.
This is the perfect time to do a five minute brain break. While some brain breaks are meant to get students energy out, others are meant to calm students down. GoNoodle is a great site that has both interactive energetic, as well as calming brain breaks. Some categories are rainbow breathe, weather the storm, find peace, and let it go. All of these few-minute activities are meant to calm students down.
Doodling is something most teachers hinder in their classroom, but this time it will be something that you want your students to do. To ease students into learning after an energetic activity, have students sit at their desks and listen to some calming music. Allow them to doodle on some notepads while listening to the music. You can even let them suck on piece of hard candy. Research shows that doodling increases comprehension and focus, while sucking on a piece of hard candy like peppermint will help students maintain a sense of calm.
When students get back from a special activity like gym or recess, they are very wound up. When you have more than 20 kids enter your classroom all at the same time, this can lead to a lot of chaos. Instead, have a few students at a time take turns getting a drink from the water foundation or their water bottles, then enter the classroom. If you have five students at a time enter the classroom instead of 25, you will limit the amount of chaos that will be in your classroom.
Do you have any tips to help calm students down in school? Please share your expertise, we would love to hear what you do in your classroom. You never know, your ideas may just be the thing that works for other teachers too
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.